Rich history

Debbie Coombe, St Andrews parish councillor, Kenilworth

I refer to the article in the Tatler, on September 1, “Help raise funds for new church hall”. The church in question being St Andrews Church, on Kildare Road, Newlands.

St Andrews, Newlands, has been a community for a long time with an abundant history and many memories have been made here.

Did you know that open air services started in 1854, under the mother church, St Saviours – that’s 162 years ago. The first chapel was built in Palmboom Road and a Sunday school was started in 1862. When this first chapel proved to be too small for the growing Newlands community, a second one was built further down Palmboom Road and a school was started in the first chapel.

St Andrews became a parish in its current building in 1895 and the number of school children numbered 253 in the first two chapels. Many of these children’s parents worked for the brewery.

In 1909 the government introduced an element of apartheid and the white and coloured children in the two schools had to be split, whites in the first chapel and coloureds in the second one – the parishioners of this church were horrified by this.

From 1950 to 1957, the Group Areas Act was implemented. Canon Hinchliff defied both the government and the Diocese and a new school arose (where the present Kildare Pre-Primary is) in 1956 – with a total of 256 coloured children. By 1961 there were some 650 persons on the parish books, of which 640 were coloured and 10 white.

What I’m leading to here, is that three years after this most of this community had to leave the area for new homes on the Cape Flats and sadly the school closed in 1966.

There is a Cross of Remembrance up at the back of the church – in memory of those who were forced to leave. Some of those parishioners who were forced to leave their homes continued to come and worship at St Andrews, and kept making memories.

The parish, due to lack of funds once again came under its old mother church, St Saviours.

The Kildare Nursery School was founded (in the old coloured school building) in 1968 and the school governing body paid rent to St Andrews – to this day, this rent is used to provide education bursaries to disadvantaged students.

The school is and always has been an important part of our community.

After 1968, as funds became available and loans arranged, an ambitious programme of work was undertaken to restore the church after years of neglect.

In 1976 St Andrew’s became an independent parish again with its own rectory building.

What is this history telling us? That when the need came to accommodate change, the Newlands community stood up and did it. Each time a building was too small or inadequate, the community embarked on a fund-raising project. It is time for us to do this again.

Our current hall and facilities no longer meet our needs, we need to be more inclusive and versatile, attractive to young and old alike and become an accessible 24/7 church.

The school is in desperate need of an upgrade and maintenance. It is time for us to come together to raise funds to build a new space that will enrich lives and forge bonds for generations to come. With these planned renovations Kildare Pre-Primary will also gain renovated classrooms as well as a new entrance, reception and office spaces and much needed new kitchen and toilet facilities.

There are many ways to get involved depending on your skills, capacity and time. Be assured that every contribution, no matter the size, will help us lay more bricks. Contact the parish office on 021 674 3851 or for more information.

* This letter has been shortened.